In a motion unanimously adopted on April 19, 1995, the Commission directed the development, for its approval, of a National Enforcement Plan identifying priority issues and setting out a plan for administrative enforcement and litigation of the laws within its jurisdiction: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Equal Pay Act (EPA), and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Also on April 19, 1995, the Chairman directed District Directors and Regional Attorneys in each field office to develop Local Enforcement Plans that will be consistent with the National Plan and that will tailor their priorities to the specific needs of the many different communities served by the Commission.
This motion was adopted at a special meeting convened on April 19, 1995, to consider recommended reforms to enforcement policies that had been established by the Commission over a decade ago. The recommendations had been developed by the Task Force on Charge Processing (Task Force) created by Chairman Gilbert F. Casellas and led by Vice Chairman Paul M. Igasaki which was charged with reviewing and analyzing the private sector charge processing system. More recently, partially as the result of the Commission's increased statutory responsibilities, the number of persons filing charges annually with the EEOC has risen from less than 64,000 in fiscal year 1991 to more than 95,000 in fiscal year 1995, a 49% increase. More funding to support additional staffing and other resources necessary to meet these new challenges has not been forthcoming.
The Task Force recognized that the Commission's effectiveness as a law enforcement agency had been reduced by the overwhelming increase in its inventory of individual charges of discrimination, by the lack of financial resources needed to address the increased workload, and by a failure to strategically utilize its resources to pursue its mission through vigorous investigation, conciliation, and litigation. In the 1980's, a number of enforcement processing and litigation policies based on principles of "full investigation and enforcement" were implemented.
The Task Force concluded that the policies and practices now prevented the agency from using its limited resources strategically to pursue its mission of eradicating workplace discrimination. To address this problem, it recommended the adoption of policies that would permit the agency to make the most prudent use of its resources to accomplish its mission. One of these recommendations was that the Commission develop National and Local Enforcement Plans that prioritize issues of discrimination for Commission action.
Given the comprehensive scope of the National Enforcement Plan, the Commission consulted with a broad range of external and internal stakeholders. Through this process, the Commission sought and received recommendations from dozens of representatives of the employer, employee, labor, and civil rights communities at both the national and local levels. In addition, the then-Acting General Counsel and then-Acting Director of the Office of Program Operations (OPO) consulted with several District Directors and Regional Attorneys who, in turn, facilitated comments and suggestions from a wide range of EEOC staff, including union representatives.
Based upon this extensive consultative process and after its own careful consideration of the issues, the Commission adopts the following National Enforcement Plan (NEP), which will form the cornerstone of the Commission's efforts to achieve its statutory mission of eradicating discrimination from the workplace. The NEP recognizes that the Commission must use its limited resources more strategically to deter workplace discrimination, guide the development of the law, resolve disputes, and promote a work environment in which employment decisions are made on the basis of abilities, not on the basis of prejudice, stereotype and bigotry. The Commission also recognizes that regardless of resource issues, the development of this Plan is consistent with good management and reinventing government.
With this Plan, the Commission articulates the general principles governing the Commission's enforcement efforts, establishes national enforcement priorities, sets general parameters for the development of the Local Enforcement Plans, and delegates significant litigation authority to the Office of General Counsel so that the Commission can most effectively and efficiently accomplish its enforcement objectives.
The National Enforcement Plan incorporates the following principles, which have guided its development and will govern its implementation.
First, the Commission recognizes that achieving its fundamental mission -- the eradication of employment discrimination -- requires not only enforcement of the law, but also prevention of the problem through public outreach and education. Therefore, within current resource limitations, the National Enforcement Plan encourages that public education, outreach, and technical assistance be conducted at both the national and local level to support and enhance the enforcement activities directed by the NEP.
Second, the Commission is committed to the voluntary resolution of disputes where appropriate and feasible. The Commission recognizes that negotiated agreements that resolve claims of discrimination can directly advance the Commission's enforcement objectives, in addition to benefitting the parties to a particular dispute. The Commission believes that the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) significantly furthers the Commission's mission as a law enforcement agency. Accordingly, the Commission strongly encourages its use as an integral part of our enforcement process.
Finally, the Commission is fully committed to firm and fair enforcement, including litigation, where voluntary efforts to achieve compliance fail. The Commission recognizes that an effective litigation program is critical to the furtherance of the Commission's enforcement agenda by enjoining current violations, deterring future violations, and providing remedies to victims of employment discrimination.
While the charge prioritization policies reflected in the NEP will permit the Commission to dedicate significant resources towards the Commission's goal of achieving a manageable inventory, the Commission recognizes that without a significant increase in resources, this goal will remain elusive.
Based on the above principles, the Commission has identified three major categories of priorities, which include a series of subcategories, that will provide the foundation of the National Enforcement Plan. These priority categories will apply, as appropriate, to investigation, conciliation, and litigation, including both trial and appellate practice, as well as the EEOC's amicus curiae and intervention representation.
The Commission sets forth the following areas as priorities under the National Enforcement Plan. These priorities will apply to each of the statutes enforced by the Commission and to all persons protected by these statutes.
With the adoption of these priorities, and pursuant to a Motion unanimously adopted by the Commission on April 19, 1995, the Commission hereby withdraws all Priority Issues Lists that have previously set out priority issues for Commission consideration.
Each District Director and Regional Attorney shall develop a Local Enforcement Plan (LEP) and a supporting document detailing its plan to implement the LEP. These documents shall be submitted concurrently to the Commission, the General Counsel and Director of the Office of Program Operations (OPO), for approval no later than forty-five (45) days from the date of the adoption of the National Enforcement Plan. In turn, the General Counsel and Director of OPO shall review the LEPs and submit their recommendations to the Chairman no later than twenty-one (21) days from the date the LEPs are submitted by the District Offices. The Commissioners may also submit their comments to the Chairman on the LEPs and the implementation documents, as well as on the recommendations submitted by OGC and OPO, no later than thirty-five (35) days from the date that the LEPs are submitted by the District Offices. Then, the Chairman shall have thirty (30) days to determine whether to approve the LEPs. LEPs are to be consistent with the National Enforcement Plan, but their specific goals and objectives should be tailored to reflect legal and factual issues specific to the communities served by each office, as well as each office's resources. In particular, LEPs shall include the following critical components:
Given that disclosure of the implementation documents would seriously circumvent the Commission's pending and proposed enforcement efforts, they will be treated by the Commission as confidential.
The Commission, by resolution of April 19, 1995, delegated litigation authority in certain cases to the General Counsel until such time as the Commission adopts the National Enforcement Plan. With the goals of increasing strategic enforcement for the General Counsel and field attorneys, freeing the Commission to focus on policy issues, and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of our litigation program, the Commission now provides such delegation as follows:
First, the Commission delegates to the General Counsel the decision to commence or intervene in litigation in all cases except the following:
Second, the Commission ratifies its decision to give the General Counsel the authority to redelegate to Regional Attorneys the authority to commence litigation. The Commission encourages such redelegation of litigation authority as appropriate.
Finally, the Commission restates and ratifies its April 19, 1995 delegation to the General Counsel of the authority to refer public sector Title VII and ADA cases which fail conciliation to the Department of Justice, as well as the authority to redelegate this authority to Regional Attorneys. Regional Attorneys are encouraged to consult informally with designated "point of contact" attorneys at the Department of Justice regarding significant legal issues that arise in processing state and local government charges that appear to have litigation potential.
The General Counsel will report to the Commission quarterly on each new case filed pursuant to the delegated authority procedure set out above. The report will briefly describe the issue, basis, and scope of the case, and indicate whether authority to file it had been delegated to the Regional Attorney by the General Counsel. The General Counsel's report shall include an assessment of how the delegation authority has been exercised and whether the Commission's stated goals have been better achieved as a result of the delegation. Such reports shall be presented for discussion at the first regularly scheduled Commission meeting after the Report is prepared. The General Counsel will establish procedures for monitoring the performance of Regional Attorneys and will report to the Commission on such effectiveness once each year.
The Commission's Policy Statement on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), adopted on July 17, 1995, as well as the Commission's policy regarding settlements adopted on April 19, 1995, will apply to the implementation of the National and Local Enforcement Plans.
In the ADR Policy Statement, the Commission confirmed its strong commitment to using voluntary alternative methods for resolving disputes in all of its activities, including all aspects of the enforcement process, where appropriate and feasible. ADR is fully consistent with EEOC's mission as a law enforcement agency and is squarely grounded in the statutes enforced by the Commission. Used properly and in appropriate circumstances, ADR can provide less expensive, less contentious, and faster results in eliminating workplace discrimination.
ADR must be viewed as an integral component of its comprehensive enforcement program. ADR will complement current charge processing systems by facilitating early resolution of disputes where agreement is possible, thereby freeing up resources for identifying, investigating, settling, conciliating or litigating other matters. Improvements in the Commission's enforcement efforts should enhance the Commission's credibility as a law enforcement agency.The Commission recognizes that negotiated agreements that resolve claims of discrimination can benefit the parties to a dispute as well as directly advance the Commission's enforcement objectives. While encouraging the use of ADR, the Commission recognizes that it must remain vigilant in assuring that ADR, as used by the Commission, does not conflict with or undermine our enforcement objectives.
Within these limitations, and in conjunction with ADR programs which it may itself implement, the Commission reemphasizes the important role of settlement and conciliation as an integral component of its comprehensive enforcement program.
On May 22, 1995, the Commission resolved to establish a new partnership with the state and local fair employment practices agencies (FEPAs), recognizing our common mission to eliminate and prevent employment discrimination and to provide timely and effective redress for individuals who have been discriminated against. The Commission adopted the EEOC/FEPA Task Force's recommendation that the Chairman should take actions to forge this partnership by eliminating duplication of effort that might exist with respect to the processing of charges. As part of this process, the Chairman requested the Director of OPO to consult with field offices and FEPAs to explore the feasibility of joint investigative and enforcement activities.
The FEPAs' enforcement efforts must be viewed as an integral component of the Commission's enforcement efforts. To enhance the roles of the FEPAs in the Commission's enforcement efforts, the Chairman suggested that the Director of OPO, in consultation with the FEPAs, review and discuss the recommendations of the Task Forces on Charge Processing and Alternative Dispute Resolution, exploring ways in which the principles and recommendations, particularly those concerning priority charge handling and the measurement of results, may be used to further our joint mission of eradicating and preventing discrimination. Therefore, the District Offices are encouraged to solicit suggestions from the FEPAs in developing and implementing their LEPs in an effort to minimize duplication of efforts.
While this plan does not, and is not intended to, define the operational implementation of the enforcement priorities, the following considerations should guide implementation steps:
The General Counsel and the Director of the Office of Program Operations shall report quarterly to the Commission on the effectiveness of their efforts under the Enforcement Plans. These reports will include recommendations for amendments to the National Plan or Local Plans where appropriate for the Commission's consideration and, with respect to the General Counsel, the matters set forth in Section V, pages 14-15.
[ SEAL ]
Gilbert F. Casellas
Paul M. Igasaki
Joyce E. Tucker
Paul Steven Miller
C. Gregory Stewart
* This is a reproduction of the National Enforcement Plan, adopted by the Commission on February 8, 1996.